Pogostemon cablin aka patchouli

Patchouli is my favorite scent, although I am careful about when and where I use it, because I know it is too strong for some people.  A few weeks ago it dawned on me I have never seen a patchouli plant, whereas I have grown my own lavender and rosemary (two other favorites).  I did some research, and learned pogostemon cablin (aka patchouli) grows in hot, moist areas, such as the Philippines, Malaya, areas of India, the Caribbean, et cetera.  It was originally used as a bug repellant, and packed with cloth goods that came from the Orient.  It grows as a bush, and is actually related to lavender and rosemary.  While it can be propagated from seed, it is generally begun as a cutting; the plants do not bloom very often.  It is an inexpensive oil, because it doesn’t take as many of the leaves to produce the oil as with other herbs.  Now it is used as a fixative in perfumes, or in massage oils (because it tends to ground the person and balance their chi). 

After some Internet search I found a nursery that would ship to California (Hirt’s Gardens).  I ordered a couple plants in 4″ pots, and they arrived last Friday.  Since they were shipped from Ohio, am sure they are greenhouse plants.  They were packed with a chemical heating pad, to keep them warm over the journey, and the pots were wrapped to keep them moist.  They looked rather sad on Friday, but are beginning to look better today.  Where I live, while we have the moisture, our highest temperatures would be a cold snap for these plants.  I’ve put them in the room with the most even temperature (next to my parrot), and put them on top of a seedling heat mat for additional warmth.  Though they are also in the sunniest room in the house (with the sun filtered through a lace curtain), I have purchased a small grow-light, since they need full to part sun.  (When grown commercially, they are often planted under trees.)  [Note: The grow-light turned out to be too much light; they are doing well with light filtered through the lace curtains on a south-facing window.  And now, two weeks later, they have new growth at the joints!  Yippee!]

Am excited to have them, and hope they do well.  While I doubt they will ever be candidates for “Sunset” magazine, I will be happy if they are healthy.  Not sure I will ever do anything with the leaves, but will think about that once they have more.      🙂


About judithornot

Lives in semi-rural Northern California, happily married, retired counselor, night person, knits, plays WoW.
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